Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holidays: 2. Figure It Out

"Next to a circus
there ain't nothing that packs up and tears out faster
than the Christmas spirit."
Kin Hubbard

For some of us, it might be a difficult thing to figure out just what a holiday means to us and how we can best celebrate. Some would say this is easy, because - perhaps - they come from stable, functional families, already have time-honored traditions, and/or have well-established "modes of operation" for preparing for the big celebration. If things have always been done a certain way, and one is comfortable with that, all may seem well. Why make changes? Indeed, none may be needed and my premises worthless.
On the other hand, not all of us may be as fortunate. Life has a way of throwing us a curve every now and again; times, situations, and people do indeed change. I believe we know innately, deep down in our gut, whether or not holiday preparations and celebrations ring true for us. And if, for whatever reason, they do not, then what can/should we do about it?

What is your general feeling - do you love the preparations just as they are and can't wait to delve into the fray? If so, GO FOR IT! But if not, then take some time to figure out what needs to change. Perhaps you feel over-extended - too much of the good (and sometimes not-so-good...) things can wreak havoc. Maybe you feel like you're just going through the motions, doing the "same ol', same ol'" as you've always done, and your heart just isn't in it. If you've suffered loss of any kind - a job, home, relationship, loved one - could be you're depressed and really feel no joy in the season. Whatever you're feeling, acknowledge it, and then try to move on.

This is such an individual thing that each person needs to figure it out for themselves. This is why I think it's important to try to do so independently, without undue outside influences such as the vast commercialism that is rampant these days. Consider the following...

Treat yourself kindly: Take care of yourself so that you have enough of yourself left to give to the tasks you've set out to do. That means, as we all know, eating healthy food in moderation, getting enough sleep, getting some daily exercise in whatever way you can. I also like the idea of practicing positive thoughts and looking for the small, everyday things that I'm thankful for. Find time each day to be still - treat yourself to a cup of tea, listen to your favorite music, read a bit, or just rest. Consider the magnificent gift of life itself.

Choose your priorities: No one can do it all, so don't even try. Decide what matters most to you and yours - choosing one to three things is a good start - to concentrate on. Church services and programs are a must for us, as is connecting in meaningful ways with friends and family. My husband and I enjoy our home and creating things, so we concentrate our efforts there; many of our decorations are home-made and we've had them for many years. Our tastes are simple, lean towards old fashioned, and are sometimes a bit quirky.

Maintain or establish connections: With our family and friends who live far away we've made the effort to keep in touch, giving our time to communication rather than material things. Yes, we do send emails and I use some social media, but nothing can replace a phone call or hand-written note. I especially enjoy meeting a friend for a cup of coffee or lunch to get caught up on each other's lives. One of my long-distance friends has given up on getting her Christmas letters mailed on time. I know to look for hers sometime in January or February and really enjoy reading them during this less-frantic time.

Try something different: There are no hard and fast rules for how one spends their holiday, so don't be afraid to branch out. Some people celebrate on whatever day works best for them, some leave town and spend it doing totally "untraditional" things, and some don't observe the day at all. It's really up to you if, and how, you celebrate it. If you're not happy with the current situation, try something different - what can you lose?

First things first: I find it best to tackle the tough jobs first, if for no other reason than to just get them off my list! I also keep in mind the things that might not get done, so put those at the bottom. And, because not all things come together exactly as planned, learn to be flexible and have a sense of humor. When all is said and done, the very best things we give are memories and sometimes those are of very odd, funny situations!!
Put giving before receiving: Gift-giving is a large part of our Christmas celebration, but that has changed through the years. Mostly, we've lived far from family, so all gifts have needed to be planned in advance and mailed. We also don't believe in going in debt, so there's a budget to live with. In our early married years, we made all of our gifts; now we buy most, but still enjoy creating some of them. As our extended family grew, we decided when it seemed prudent to stop exchanging long-distance gifts, notifying those affected with a heart-felt note well in advance. Baked goods or other small creations are always given to close friends as well as those who regularly "serve" us - the mail and paper carriers, trash collectors, etc. We have become much more earth-conscious and try to gift responsibly - buying local, hand-made, and re-purposed goods as much as we can. As the older members of our family have passed on, we've filled those spaces with giving what we can to the needy in our local community. We find true fulfillment in providing a bit of food and a carefully-chosen gift, especially for a little one.

Expect and roll with glitches: As our parents aged, my in-laws would send money for us to buy each other gifts from them. We were both aware of the multiple packages that each of us carefully stashed away for future wrapping to go under the tree. One Christmas Eve, as we sat content among the piles of ripped wrapping paper and assorted gifts, feeling content and relaxed, my husband suddenly blurted out "Hey! Where's all my presents from the folks??" OOOPS - in the midst of all the pre-holiday preparations I'd completely forgotten about those. Sheepishly, I retrieved them and presented them to "his Nibs" in their plain brown boxes and bags. Although it wasn't so funny at the time, we now look back at that with great humor - LIFE happens!
"I wrapped my Christmas presents early this year,
but I used the wrong paper.
See, the paper I used said 'Happy Birthday' on it.
I didn't want to waste it so I just wrote 'Jesus' on it."
Demetri Martin

Simplify: There is no rule that says you have to have the perfect holiday or that there's something wrong with you if you don't. Not all things happen quickly, so practice patience. If you're not in a particularly good place right now, take each day as it comes and be grateful for what you do have. If you want your holidays to be different, make that conscious decision, figure out where you are and where you want to go. Just begin - step by step, you will get there.
"He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!"

Dr. Seuss

For other Christmas glitches click here:

1 comment:

  1. you have said it all perfectly ladybug!

    (it's all gotten out of hand...too commercial...) we must remember goodwill...giving from the heart...compassion and understanding. good things to remember ALL year long.

    (love your happy-holiday-shelf-sitter-froggie!)

    great post!!